DIY Stepping Stones and Border

DIY Stepping Stones and Border

decorative border

Last week, while visiting a garden, I noticed that the front yard was enclosed by a decorative border made up of individual,beautifully decorated blocks.

decorative border

Instead of paying attention to the plants in the garden, I found myself walking around the perimeter of the garden and admiring each unique block – no two were the same.

decorative border

It seemed that everywhere I turned, there was another uniquely decorated block.

decorative step stoneFotografi/Gap Photos LTD

I finally tore myself away from admiring the border, but as I approached the front door, there was another beautiful creation that I was greeted by – a lovely star-shaped step-stone.

I spent most of my visit consulting with the homeowner about the plants and trees in their landscape, but at the end, I told him how much I loved the border and step-stones.  It was then that he told me that his wife creates them and he offered to introduce me to her.

workspaceSaxon Holt

He showed me her workshop, where she created the borders and step stones.  He told me that each block starts out with a plastic food storage container.

broken plates

It was at this point that his wife came and I asked her if she wouldn’t mind telling me how she created her borders.  I could see on her table broken pieces of plates and glass beads, a can of cooking spray, plastic food containers and a big bag of cement.

glass beads

She said that making the stones for the borders and steps was quite easy and fun to do.


She was kind enough to share with me how she made them so I could share it with you.

Supplies: Portland Cement, plastic food containers in your desired size for the block (brick), bucket, trowel, cooking spray and broken pieces of plates, glass beads, ceramic pieces in which to decorate the top.

1. Put the dry cement mixture in a bucket and add just enough water so that when you mix it, it reaches the consistency of brownie batter.

2. Spray your plastic food container with non-stick cooking spray (this will help the block to pop out once it has dried).

3. Pour enough cement into the plastic container until you reach the top and level off with the trowel.

4. Now for the fun part – create pictures or designs using pieces of ceramic, broken plates or cups and glass beads.  **The creator of these beautiful blocks visits the local dollar stores and buys plates just for this purpose.

5. Let the block dry for 48 hours.

6. Pop out and place in your landscape!

concrete form

To create step stones or garden signs, purchase special plastic forms from your local craft store and use them instead, following the same steps above.

decorative step stone

I came away so inspired that I am thinking that these would make great gifts for the gardeners in my life (Christmas is NOT too far away).

– You could make a welcome sign for someone’s entry or how about a stone with their last name spelled out in broken pieces of ceramic?

– What if you made a sign or place step-stones near your bird feeder?

– How about making plant marker using the blocks with the plant it is identifying, created onto the block?  I can just imagine making a block with a picture of a carrot made from broken pieces of a orange plate.

Okay, so I am on my way to the store to get my supplies – I already have the bucket, cooking spray and plastic food containers.
How about you?  What would you like to make using this technique?  I’d love more ideas.

Noelle Johnson
Noelle Johnson is a horticulturist and certified arborist who lives and gardens in the desert Southwest. When she is not writing or helping other people with their gardens, you can find her growing fruits and vegetables, and planting flowering shrubs and maybe a cactus or two.